GENIUS SERIES: 32. "Catharsis"
Saturday, April 22, 2006

"While Serenity makes a break for freedom, Simon Tam at last comes into his own."



SUMMARY: "While Serenity makes a break for freedom, Simon Tam at last comes into his own." The usual disclaimers apply. The characters and 'Firefly' are the property and gift of Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy. No infringement of copyright is intended.


"Firefly" story

Written by Alison M. DOBELL

* * * * *

Inara Serra tried not to worry, secretly admiring Zoe's ability to obey. Her unshakable faith in the friend who had accompanied her out of the valley of the shadow of death. Was ever a stronger friendship former? A closer tie than blood? And Simon, willingly going off to do battle against the same government system which had bestowed postion, wealth and honour on his family. At least until River and himself had rebelled. How ugly a science was that now shown to be? Truly, power did corrupt and in this 'verse corrupted absolutely. It pricked her conscience that once she too had been blind to the evil of its' excess, thinking only of how comfortable and glorious her life could be. The rules of the game so elegant but ultimately meaningless.

Mal had put his finger on the pulse of the malady she had refused to acknowledge for so long at the shindig that had led to that ill advised duel. Only Malcolm Reynolds had not died and Atherton Wing had been no gentleman. His courtly ways an affront to every honest man. Fine clothes did not a fine man make nor did the rough earthy life of a transport ship's Captain invalidate a man's worth. And here they were in a pretty fix with Serenity running for Boros while Simon and Mal played chicken with the architect of their predicament. How was it that River could be so calm? Turn the ship for a distant shore leaving her brother to face a disingenuous foe?

"This will be the making of him."

River's voice jarred the Companion out of her musing. She blinked and turned to stare at the girl sitting in the pilot's chair. No, not a girl. She was a woman now. "*Shenme*? What do you mean, River?"

"It was the only way."

Confused, Inara also felt a pang of apprehension. They were the only two currently on the bridge. Kaylee was in the engine room and Jayne was lifting weights in the hold. Zoe had gone to make something for them to eat though none of them were anxious to get to table. Fortunately they took the cooking in turn or within a week the ship would either be crewless or in the throes of a mutiny. Cooking had never been Zoe's strong point. "Why do you say that?"

"Simon doesn't think he can do it but he can. All he has to do is believe."


River nodded and made a minor adjustment to their course, had to keep the planet between them and the Alliance ship. Didn't matter a good gorram they were going away from the Alliance vessel, getting caught now would be worse than stupid. It would likely be fatal. "Simon is the Shepherd's Mal."

For a long moment Inara just stared at her. "What does this have to do with Shepherd Book?"

The girl's voice dropped to a hushed whisper. "Last words. Wanted the Captain to believe, didn't matter what it was. He wanted him to regain his faith."

"River, it's not that simple."

"*Ni bu dong*, not talking about Religion."

Now Inara was doubly confused and wishing she hadn't got into this conversation. "Then what was it about?"

"Faith. Mal always thought when the Shepherd was talking about faith he was talking about God." River paused as if waiting for Inara to make a contribution, when the Companion stayed silent she sighed slightly and continued. Time to fill in some of the blanks. "It's self belief. Faith in those around you. Anything that would help ground the Captain and give him the strength and hope to continue."

"What does that have to do with Simon?"

River gave her a truly beautific little smile, her face shining. "He lacks faith. Not in us but in himself."

"River," Inara cautioned gently. "They are going up against the might of the Alliance."

"*Wo zhidao* but Simon has always thought he was alone." River paused and gave a happy little grin. "Not alone any more."

* * * * *

The shipping office on Boros was not a swanky affair but it was efficient and even though the logs were checked not once, not twice, but a dozen or more times the answer came back the same. Nothing. The man's face darkened in anger and frustration. "You sure?" The clerk nodded and touched his cortex screen. "*Qu*." The man slammed his right fist into the palm of his left hand. He had already been haunting the gorram post office for word. Any sign that might account for the silence and loss of contact. Now all his frustration was turning into a terrible rage. He had not been too worried at first. The ship and crew had come highly recommended. Weeks passed and every day his profit margin was dwindling like oxygen flushed into the atmo. His lips flattened into a grim unforgiving line. Nobody played him for a *baichi* and got away with it.

* * * * *

The sound was like the worst kind of caterwauling imaginable, the screeching cries and hideous howls turning his blood cold. Simon blinked and steadied the groggy Captain, easing the man down into a sitting position. Simon was loath to let him lay down, fearing if he did so the Captain would never have the chance to get up again. Pale faced and shell shocked, the Captain was staring glassy eyed, red tears running in thin ribbons down his face as matching trickles flowed from his nose and ears. Simon was worried but it was hard to truly panic when everything was going to *diyu* in a hand basket.

Thadius was saying something but Simon couldn't hear him. The man's mouth opening and closing but anything he said being drowned out by the level of noise deafening him. He could feel the reverberation of racket thrumming in the heated air, the two suited men advancing with their silver rods extended. Both of them making for Simon as if no one else existed. But Simon was only peripherally aware of them, his eyes fixed on his father as the man screamed and tore at his hair.

Unable to get through to Simon, Thadius moved closer until he could lay a hand on the doctor's shoulder then with a fearsome push managed to make the mental connection. *Simon, you have to concentrate. Stop them*


Although Thadius could not hear what Simon said he lip read the word. *Don't speak, I won't hear you anyway. Think*


Despite their dire circumstances, Thadius smiled at him. *That's right*

It took a moment for the dime to drop. Simon's eyes widened in disbelief, Mr Smith and Mr Brown inching nearer. *I can hear you in my head*

*You always could, Simon* Thought Thadius gently. He got a glare back which almost made the Reader chuckle. *Time for explanations later, first you have to finish this*

*I.. can't. I'm not...*

*Yes, you are. At least TRY Simon, or all this, all this effort, pain and destruction will be for nothing. If you don't stop them here and now River will never be safe. The Captain and crew will be hunted down and killed. They will never stop coming, Simon*

*Wo bu dong*

*Follow my lead, Simon. Let us help you*

Simon was not sure how it happened but suddenly he felt his mind open like the petals on a flower. Layer upon layer upon layer, the shock of it muted by the terrible necessity to act and act quickly. He felt the others join him, adding their strength and ability to augment his own. Thadius showing him how to harness with his will the power that had lain sleeping for so long. In wonder his mind breathed the thought, *How is this even possible?*

*You are your sister's brother*

Blinking at Ruben's gentle explanation, Simon felt a surge of determination fill him. In that moment he knew exactly what to do. A tingling numbness was brushing against his mind, a wall of pain trying to break through and shatter him but Simon was inviolate. With a snap of his mind, the doctor unleashed everything he had, drawing energy and confidence from the Readers and surprised when another thought touched his own. It was tinged in pain but oddly enough brought the threat of tears to his eyes. Trying not to think beyond necessity, he poured his passion and his will into not simply holding back the evil tide but turning it upon itself.

Thadius felt the fire in his mind, flames consuming portions of his mental acuity. One by one he could feel the others' minds being slowly fried. He hung on in desperation, knowing Simon needed their aid. The flicker that was the Captain's consciousness was silent now. The man had finally collapsed and passed out. Thadius was driven to his knees but kept a hand on Simon. The other Readers knelt in a little semi-circle around them, holding back the pain to shelter Simon from the worst of it, allowing the doctor to aim with almost surgical precision. Mr Brown's eyes widened in a cross between horror and shock, seconds before the wand in his hand created a feedback loop in his cerebal cortex. One by one the blood vessels in his brain burst, the agonised cry being joined by another as Mr Smith dropped his rod and collapsed inert to the ground. In seconds the Reavers were on them, a feeding frenzy fueled not by hunger but anger. Raw and terrible to behold. Amid the mayhem of brutal death Gabriel Tam stumbled and stared with unseeing eyes.

It was Ruben who stirred first, his mind a painful morrass of damaged nerve endings. He flinched with each projected thought. *We should go now*

Simon could not comprehend the urgency. Hadn't they won? Wasn't this nightmare of the living dead an end in itself? Thadius shook his head and spoke out loud. "*Bu qu*, Simon. We have to get out of here, get the Captain out. You too."

But Simon could not take his eyes off his father. Gabriel Tam. The man was clawing at his face now, fingers bloodly as he dug into the skin and tried to rip his face off. Just as Simon was about to say something his breath caught in his throat, one of the Reavers who had been feeding on Mr Smith finally noticing the insane man. With a cry the Reaver leapt at Gabriel and fastened his teeth in the man's neck. Simon turned his head away, no longer able to watch. Ruben helped Helen to her feet, Michael and Carl gently doing the same for Thadius. Thadius let go of Simon and reached for the Captain. The others shuffled closer to help. Thadius nudged Simon until the doctor turned to look at him.

"Help us. Help him."

Simon blinked then noticed that the Captain wasn't moving. It was strange how the terrible feeding frenzy failed to impinge on his consciousness once he had something else to focus on. Something that mattered to him. Between them they carried the unconscious man away from the heaving throng, a part of Simon's mind amazed that none of the Reavers were taking any notice of them. He wanted to ask Thadius how they were going to get out but as they retreated he realised they were heading for the Reaver ship they had boarded in. His stomach clenched with distaste. "We can't...What about the lack of containment not to mention the fuel...."

"We're not taking the Reaver ship, Simon."

It was all too confusing for the doctor so he concentrated on helping get the Captain away from the madness and the mayhem. The route they took did not lead to anything as logical as the bridge or a control room. Instead they seemed to be working their way to the rear of the huge monolithic vessel. Simon asked no questions. So tired and numb he simply kept putting one foot in front of the other and trusted the Readers to know what they were doing. River trusted them. The Captain trusted them. So would he. He hardly registered the thin wailing scream ending abruptly as Gabriel Tam's throat was torn out, an agonised tearing bite at a time. The Reavers were mad but they weren't stupid. Once released from Gabriel Tam's control they knew who had made them and wanted their revenge. Even survival came second to that bloody end.

Thadius knew that once their initial blood lust was satisfied the Reavers would pour out of the hold and make inroads on the rest of the huge ship. Killing and feeding until the ship's crew decorated their blood stained clothes and twisted bodies like hideous trophies.

Simon blinked and stared at the shiny round shaft. He had not noticed a gorram thing until he was half pushed and half pulled along its' gleaming length. Carl kicked out the hatch at the end and within minutes they were crammed into a sleek looking craft. He opened his mouth but before he could say anything the little craft shot out of the back end of the ship then cloaked. Unable to fathom that they were actually going to escape he stared dumbly at the deck, so utterly tired and filled with a mental exhaustion the like of which he had never endured before. Not even in the worst times of his residency when sleep had a higher premium than gold had he ever been this numb. Helen touched his hand but Simon felt it not. Her gentle urging had him lying on the deck, eyes closing obediently as they lulled him into a healing sleep.

The ship was easy to fly. State of the art navigation made her a dream but Thadius hated the little vessel because of what it stood for. The regime that had built it was the author of too many nightmares to be forgiven for the sake of a shiny piece of technology. No. They would use the ship because necessity drove them. Tired as he was Thadius settled next to the unconscious Captain, and put a hand on Mal's neck, carefully feeling for the carotid pulse. Relieved beyond words to find the weakened pulse. Ruben nudged him and Thadius nodded wearily in response. One by one they huddled round and each gave a little of their strength to stabilise the Captain. Helen caught Thadius Clay's eye and smiled, nodding at the sleeping doctor. Her eyes shining. River had been right. Simon really had come through in the end.

* * * * *

Ten days. Kaylee should have felt justly proud of the Firefly's little feat but she was too upset and worried. Still no word from Simon or the Captain. Even Inara had stopped trying to reassure her. The landing on Boros was uneventful and Kaylee doubted Serenity had more than a thimble of fuel left in her tanks. They were pretty much breathing fumes now anyway.

"What do we do?" Kaylee wailed. "They ain't here!"

Jayne wanted to go to her, comfort and reassure her but sensed it would not be welcome. All Kaylee cared about was Simon. And because Jayne wanted her to be happy he wanted the doc back too. Kind of. Secretly he thought the doc and the Captain were probably dead, didn't much care if the Readers that went with them were. They weren't crew.

It was the call from Zoe on the bridge that had everyone scrambling to see what the news was. When Kaylee, Jayne and Inara got there a grim faced Zoe was staring at the cortex screen. When she did not say anything, River spoke up from the pilot's chair. "Tired of waiting."

"Yeah, sweetie, so are they on their way?" Asked Kaylee in a little rush.

Tilting her head, a far away look came into River's eyes. "Safe not sound, home soon."

Bouncing on the balls of her feet, Kaylee could hardly contain her relief and happiness. Then she noticed that Zoe wasn't laughing. Wasn't smiling neither. Inara frowned at her. "What's wrong?"

"You remember that job we took? The one we never got to make good on?" She paused and waited for the others to nod. "Seems they're unhappy."

"Huh," Said Jayne, unimpressed. "Not like we didn't do it for no reason."

"Yeah well reason or not, seems they ain't goin' nowhere 'til they've seen the Cap'n."

* * * * *

Simon didn't begin to stir until days later. Descending through the atmo as Boros came up on sensors Thadius felt a sigh of relief quake through his worn out body. He couldn't help but feel like an old man his own self. But he didn't regret it a single bit. He could feel the others gently tip-toing through his mind, each one of them mind sore. Their care made him smile. Simon sat then grimaced. "What am I doing on the floor?"

"Sleeping." Said Helen.

As the memories flooded in he paled. "Reavers!"

The ghost of his breath hushed the word but with horror not reverence. Carl thought it funny that the doctor looked more like cracking up now that it was over than he had in the heat of all the mayhem. "*Fang xin*, we weren't followed."

"Are you *shenjingbing*? Do you have any idea of what we've done?"

Five faces blinked back at him. Of course they knew. Every thought in his head blaring out in their own minds because Simon lacked the finesse yet not to shout what he was thinking. It was painful enough to make them wince. The Captain didn't count because he was still asleep. "Simon, *han mei you yong*."

Simon ran a worried hand through his hair. "We've just given the Reavers a state of the art Alliance ship, do you know what that means?"

A groggy voice from the deck drew his attention to the waking Captain. "Huh? We got Reavers?"

Thadius knelt beside Mal and spoke softly to him, quietly bringing him up to date. The Captain blinked lazily up at him, his mind kind'a foggy and his body feeling all manner of remote as if it didn't belong to him. But his ears, even after that fun little display from Adelei Niska, his ears worked fine. "Simon, what you gettin' all upset about? We did what we came to do, *dong ma*? Serenity got clear didn't she Thadius?" Thadius nodded. The Captain was started to feel even better but let Thadius help him sit up. He returned his attention to Simon, knowing the young doctor was starting to get himself worked up. "What happens on that ship back there? Ain't our problem, Simon. I care about me an' mine, not them."

"*Ni bu dong*, when we left the Reavers were ripping everyone apart, eating and tearing and..." Simon broke off at the repulsive and sickening images that provoked inside his head and shuddered. "I'm sure you get the picture." The Captain nodded then held in a hiss of pain from moving too quickly, waiting for the doctor to get whatever was troubling him off his chest. "Within days - perhaps even hours - that ship will be a REAVER ship!"

"No, it won't."

Simon and the Captain turned to see a rather smug look on Michael's face. Michael enjoyed their moment of confusion. "You gonna tell them Thad or should I?"

Thadius just raised an eyebrow so Michael explained. "You did it Simon, once you allowed yourself to believe in yourself. You turned them against each other. Ruben found a wire on Gabriel, a controlling device connected to his brain. When the wire was pulled Gabriel had nothing to separate him from the madness and the Reavers suddenly had no one controlling them and keeping them obedient to his will. They didn't like being his dogs of war almost as much as they hated the Hands of Blue."

Both Simon and the Captain started at that. River's obssession with 'two by two, hands of blue' having a frightening clarity in their minds. Those two suited men either side of Gabriel Tam had been wearing thin blue gloves. Simon remembered the little silver rods they had held out, the ends sliding out just before activation. If they had not fought back with their minds they would not have survived the next few minutes let alone been alive to discuss the aftermath. The realisation of how close they had come to disaster made Simon feel weak. But the Captain was still concentrating on what Michael was saying.

"So you're sayin' we got no need to worry 'bout the Reavers?"

Michael nodded. "*Bu qu*. Once the feeding frenzy is over the Reavers will begin fighting among themselves."

Simon looked a mite perplexed. "But why?"

"Because," Said Thadius calmly. "You turned their minds around."

"I did?"

"Yes, Simon," Helen smiled. "Or didn't you know? You're a Reader too."

He stared blankly at her, waiting for the punchline so he could laugh as well. It didn't come. He frowned then began to shake his head. "Oh no, that's River not me."

"Then how do you explain what happened?"

That was Ruben. "I.. I don't but you're all Readers, what does what you did have to do with me?"

"We couldn't have taken on your father without you. As it was we were able to diminish the actions of the Hands of Blue until you joined us. Once our minds were linked and you let go they never stood a chance."

Simon sat next to the Captain. He was becoming quite fond of the floor, at least it allowed stunned body and mind to recover from his sense of shock without the embarrassment of his legs giving way. He felt a weight on his shoulder and turning his head looked into the blue of the Captain's eyes - noting that the man was looking much more cogent and aware - and that he had a large warm hand on his shoulder. "You did good, Simon, so don't jinx it *dong ma*?"

"But I..."

"Hush now, be a good doctor an' don't go borrowin' trouble you don't need. Gettin' yourself all worked up won't get us back to Serenity."

"You're, you..."

The Captain smiled. Yep, Simon Tam was Top Three Per Cent alright, pity he was having trouble mastering the ability to speak. "You gonna finish that sentence?"

He blinked. "Yes, I..." He broke off and blinked at the Captain. "What was I saying?"

"You were sayin' what a brilliant plan that was an' how you're always gonna listen to your Cap'n from now on."

For a moment Simon just stared at him then his eyes began to narrow.

"Alright, alright," Grumbled Mal good naturedly even though every part of him ached even the back of his eyeballs. "So you didn't say that but if you had been able to think straight you would'a."

It was Thadius Clay who broke the moment, his voice sounding curious more than alarmed. "Cap'n?"

The Captain wanted to get up but somehow his body wasn't in the mood to listen. "Yeah?"

"There supposed to be a welcomin' committee around your ship?"

* * * * *

CHINESE GLOSSARY: (Mandarin - Pinyin)

*sheme* = what *ni bu dong* = you don't understand *wo zhidao* = I know *qu* = yes (lit. go) *baichi* = idiot *diyu* = hell *bu qu* = no (lit. no go) *wo bu dong* = I don't understand *fang xin* = don't worry (lit. ease your heart) *shenjingbing* = crazy *han mei you yong* = there's no point in shouting *dong ma* = understand?


Sunday, April 23, 2006 3:34 AM


Ali you are a true artist I have read most of your works and enkoy them all, although you do so beat the absolute CRAP out of the Cap'n a bit much, he is after all a BIG Damn Hero.

Sunday, April 23, 2006 4:22 AM


Ohhh! What an excellent chapter! Loved how you resolved them getting away from the Reavers.

Can't wait to see what the Readers do about that welcome committe! And the reunion of everyone on the ship!

Sunday, April 23, 2006 8:28 AM


This was a great chapter! I can't wait to see how the welcoming committee is taken care of! It will be nice to see the whole crew back on the ship! Can't wait for your next post!

Sunday, April 23, 2006 8:31 AM


Now this was a lovely little wrap-up of the "BDHs getting chased by the Tams" chapter of the story, AMDOBELL;)

And yeah....seems rather anti-climatic to have the irate client be the downer moment, but it is rather Jossian: the normal, the regular being the kick in the teeth:)


Friday, November 4, 2011 8:19 PM


"You were sayin' what a brilliant plan that was an' how you're always gonna listen to your Cap'n from now on."
Hehehe loved that!


You must log in to post comments.



His head still ached from the rutting probe but after the men had satisfied themselves that his story was true a thousand questions peppered the air like machine gun fire.

The vessel was shiny, sleek and black with nowhere near the bulk of an Alliance ship. Something about the way it moved through the Black was more than a little creepifying.

Personally she didn't care if Serenity was towed off to a junk yard and stripped into spare parts. She had promised the ship to Jer and his crew as a bonus but it looked like scavengers had beaten them to it.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS: 2. "Counting Chickens"
The fact that her eyes were hard and sharp with intelligence kind of chilled him. Smart women always made him uneasy, it just weren't natural.

What in the nine hells were they so afraid of? Then he remembered Tracy. The body mailed to them by their old war buddy and all the trouble that had brought down on them.

If it was too gorram wet to hunt for rabbits what in the nine hells was his son really hunting? And was it something on four legs or two?

The man was in a terrible condition, his pulse weak, and for some reason he was soaking wet which did nothing to staunch the blood soaking through his clothing and seeping from the poorly tended wound where he had been shot.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 9. "All The King's Men"
The man sighed like the weight of the of the 'Verse was on his shoulders but unlike anyone else he looked like he could carry the weight.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 8. "All The King's Horses"
Without warning something came through the opening and rolled with a metallic clang across the ground before exploding.

THE DICHOTOMY SERIES: 7. "Friend or Foe"
Then he found himself falling, the whole world silent as in slow motion the hordes of *diyu* came to swallow him up and everything disintegrated in fire, blood and pain.